Russia nixes UN proposal on MH17 tribunal
Russia on Wednesday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would set up an international criminal court to prosecute those responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine a year ago. The foreign ministers of the Netherlands, Australia and Ukraine attended a meeting over the downing that killed all 298 people on board Flight MH17. The countries are among the five nations investigating the incident, along with Malaysia and Belgium. Ukraine and the West suspect the plane, travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian soldiers or Russia-backed separatist rebels on July 17, 2014. Russia denies that, and state media have alleged the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian missile or warplane. “Russia has callously disregarded the public outcry in the grieving nations,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said, adding that the United States was among the 18 countries that lost citizens in the disaster. Three countries abstained from the vote: China, Venezuela and Angola. Wednesday’s vote followed a last-minute effort to lobby Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said setting up a tribunal would not make sense while the investigation continued. The Dutch ambassador to the UN, Karel van Oosterom, tweeted a statement saying Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Putin that “it was preferable to make a decision about the tribunal before the facts and charges have been established precisely in order to avoid politicizing the prosecution process.” But the Kremlin quoted Putin as saying a tribunal would be “inexpedient” because Russia still has “a lot of questions” about the investigation to which it had little access.